Head coach remains optimistic about the team’s chances in the playoffs
After five months of ups and downs, the University of Ottawa women’s hockey team reached the end of their regular season journey in Montreal on Friday, Feb. 17.
Even though the Gee-Gees ultimately lost to the Université de Montréal Carabins by a final score of 2–1, they didn’t go down without putting up a fight.
Coming off of a 6–2 loss to the Carabins on Feb. 10, the Gees were determined to come out swinging in this rematch and that’s exactly what they did—out shooting Montréal by a margin of 12–4 in the first twenty minutes of play.
Even though both teams failed to score in the first two periods of this game the back and forth action was anything but boring, with plenty of breakaways, big saves, and power-play opportunities on display to keep the energy high.
Unfortunately, just like in their two previous bouts in Montreal, flagrant penalties ended up costing the Gees big time.
After U of O star Mélodie Bouchard got slapped with a penalty for body checking five minutes into the third period, the Carabins capitalized with a sneaky backhand from forward Marie-Pier Dubé.
Montréal added to the scoreboard three minutes later thanks to Estelle Duvin, extending their lead to 2–0.
The Gees did manage to cut the Carabins’ lead in half with three minutes to go in the third, courtesy of a top shelf snipe from Cindy Laurin, but it was too little too late. Not even an extra attacker could help the U of O find the back of the net in the dying seconds of the game, and the Carabins held on to win by a final score of 2–1.
“We need to learn to be disciplined,” said head coach Yanick Evola, reflecting on his team’s shortcomings in the last couple games. “We cannot take so many penalties against Montréal or McGill or Carleton because our league is so strong … If we’re disciplined in the playoffs we’re a dangerous team.”
Looking at the regular season as a whole, Evola said that while he’s proud of his team’s accomplishments over the last five months he admits that the second half of the year didn’t measure up to their performance at the start.
This wasn’t helped by the fact that the Gees went on a five-game losing streak at the tail end of the regular season, which lead them to finish fourth place in the réseau du sport étudiant du Québec.
“You’re not winning a championship in September and October,” said Evola. “You’re winning a championship in March. It’s a long process. It’s a marathon, it’s not a sprint.”
Despite these late season stumblings, Evola remains optimistic about their upcoming playoff series against the first place McGill Martlets, which is set to start on Thursday, Feb. 23 in Montreal.
“I’m really happy we’re playing McGill. We’re excited for the challenge and I felt (on Friday) we were strong on the puck, we won some battles, we worked hard, we were really strong defensively. I’m satisfied and I’m happy going forward into the next couple weeks in the playoffs.”
The Gees’ upcoming playoff schedule is as follows:
Game one—in Montreal (Thursday, Feb. 23 at 7p.m.)
Game two—in Ottawa (Saturday, Feb. 25, at 2 p.m.)
Game three, if necessary—in Montreal (Sunday, Feb. 26, 3 p.m.)
You can purchase tickets for Game two here.